Cubs right-hander Yu Darvish will miss the rest of the 2018 season after suffering a stress reaction in his right elbow, as president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told reporters including ESPN’s Jesse Rogers on Tuesday:
Per Theo, Darvish needs 6 weeks. He’s done for the year.— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) August 21, 2018
Darvish has a “stress reaction” in his elbow. Pre cursor to a fracture. Ligament is fine. Theo says it’s a tough one to diagnosis. Alec Mills had it last year. Took time to diagnose then.— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) August 21, 2018
While it’s very possible that Darvish will be fine heading into next season, stress reactions have a tendency to cause future problems. Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha, for instance, was first sidelined with a stress reaction in his shoulder back in 2014 and continued to have difficulty with that shoulder through the 2016 season.
The 32-year-old Darvish, who signed a six-year, $126 million contract with the Cubs prior to the season, has had a downright miserable first season in a Cubs uniform, posting a 4.95 ERA and 1.43 WHIP over 40 innings spanning eight starts. His performance this year continued a disturbing trend from last year, when he allowed nine runs (eight earned) over two World Series starts, lasting just 1.2 innings in each game. Darvish was on the DL twice — the first time to deal with a parainfluenza virus, and the second time to deal with right triceps tendonitis, though he ended up suffering the stress reaction in his elbow while gearing up to return from that injury.
The Cubs obviously were prepared for the possibility that Darvish wouldn’t return, as they went out and acquired Cole Hamels from the Rangers prior to the non-waiver trade deadline. Now that Darvish is officially done for the year, they’ll have a rotation of Hamels, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, and Tyler Chatwood the rest of the way, with Mike Montgomery perhaps a possibility to rejoin that group once he returns from a DL stint due to left shoulder inflammation. They’ll need Lester (8.16 second-half ERA), Quintana (5.57 second-half ERA), and Hendricks (4.72 second-half ERA) to break out of post-All-Star-break slumps, and for the few starts that Chatwood is scheduled to make before the regular season ends, they’ll need him to be better than he’s been for most of the year. If the Cubs get particularly frustrated with Chatwood, who has posted a 5.22 ERA and 1.81 WHIP over 23 appearances this year, they could move veteran right-hander Jesse Chavez — who has thrived out of Chicago’s bullpen but has made 70 career starts — into the rotation.